Senior R&D Render/Shader Engineer

Production Technology (R&D, PE, Pipeline) Vancouver, BC


Position at Industrial Light & Magic

R&D Rendering/Shading Engineer 

We are looking for engineers for our rendering and shading R&D team, to help advance rendering technology for photorealistic motion picture visual effects production.  

ILM works closely with our sister company, Pixar, to advance the state of Renderman and integrate it thoroughly into our production pipeline and achieve the highest level of visual complexity and fidelity. We also use many other commercial renderers, as well custom, special-purpose proprietary tools. The R&D team is responsible for the shaders and the underlying shading technology that ILM artists use to produce a wide range of photorealistic imagery: digital humans; hairy, slimy creatures; massive environments and space ships; dust, smoke, fire, water, and natural phenomena of all sorts.  We need engineers with a sound theoretical understanding of path tracing, light transport, sampling, volumetrics, physically-based material modeling, and geometric processing.

Who We Are:

Industrial Light & Magic, founded in 1975 by George Lucas, has created some of the most iconic moments in motion picture history. From Star Wars to Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, The Avengers, theme park rides and interactive experiences, ILM continues to expand the possibilities of what visual entertainment can be.

ILM’s R&D and Core Pipeline groups develop the ground-breaking technology that our artists use to create dazzling visuals.  ILM’s innovations have won 29 Scientific and Technical Academy Awards®. Today, we are 70+ visually-minded software engineers, working side-by-side with over a thousand digital artists in a fast-paced, intensely collaborative, creatively-driven film production environment, across studios in San Francisco, Singapore, Vancouver, and London.

What You’ll Do:

  • Work in a collaborative, distributed team of full-time software engineers and shading experts in researching, developing, and supporting ILM’s shader set; develop both general and special-purpose rendering algorithms and data representations that scale to high-volume photorealistic visual effects production.
  • Work directly with highly specialized and talented artists in active film production, in ILM’s studios in San Francisco, Vancouver, London, and Singapore. Work with Lighting TDs, show supervisors, and engineering teams to balance long-term development projects with day-to-day production support.
  • Analyze and optimize renderer performance in active production. Act as a trusted consultant to creative leadership on rendering approach and strategy.
  • Collaborate closely with the Renderman team at Pixar, with Pixar’s production shading/rendering teams, with other Disney divisions, and with software vendors and industry groups.

Education / Experience:

  • BS or advanced degree in computer science or related field, or equivalent experience.
  • 3+ years of experience in professional software development and/or VFX production.

Personal Skills:

  • An intuitive understanding of the demands of a fast-paced, creatively-driven visual effects production environment.
  • Collaboration: a readiness to trust others, be trustworthy, and play nice.
  • Communication: an ability to express yourself concisely, a willingness to speak up, and a conviction to keep everyone informed of progress and issues.
  • Empathy: an ability to listen intently and understand artists’ needs.
  • Creativity: an insightful and analytical thinker, and a creative problem solver.

Technical Skills:

  • Thorough knowledge of principles of computer graphics rendering and shading: path tracing, light transport, sampling, high-dynamic-range imagery, color science, subdivision surface geometry, proceduralism and instancing, deformation and caching.
  • Experience with Renderman RIS and/or similar physically-based renderers, such as Arnold, Mantra, Clarisse, Vray, etc.
  • Experience with Katana or similar computer graphics lighting applications; knowledge of other systems a plus: Maya, Houdini, Nuke, etc.
  • Experience working with a large, complex, mature, and dynamic code base.
  • Fluent in C++, with experience in Python on Linux.